What’s the best exercise I can do to lose my belly fat? How can I get rid of my bingo wings? My thighs are too fat, I want to make them smaller. These are the types of conversations I have with people regularly, alarmingly regularly. It’s a very common line of questioning, personally with several people in fact, that I’m continually having to answer. One person, it’s like an inside joke with myself, at least 5 or 6 times, every 6 months or so, it’s the same conversation. TAP, TAP, TAP, “Hi Dan, I want to lose the fat on my belly, what’s the best exercise I can do to achieve this?” And calmly I’ll reply, as I always do, every single time. TAP, TAP, TAP, “ Well you can’t spot reduce fat. Your body stores excess calories as body fat where it likes, and then it takes them away when you’re in a calorie deficit. You have to be burning more calories than you’re eating. There’s no magical exercise to attack a certain area, and reduce body fat in that area. If you’re not going to adjust your diet to achieve that deficit, and you’re going to go down the much more difficult route of trying to achieve it through exercise, then you’ll want to be doing exercises that burn the most calories over the time you have. So crunches, sit ups, no, they’re not really going to cut it. How many calories are you going to burn slightly moving your upper body? Compared to doing a squat, a lunge, a deadlift, a burpee, something that uses most of your body? At least maximise the number of calories you’re going to burn in a workout. Look to compound exercises, maybe high intensity circuits, keep your body moving, as much of it as possible.”
“Oh. Ok. Thanks.” In one ear, and out the other. And we’ll do the same dance in 6 months time. It wasn’t what they wanted to hear. You’re convinced that there’s some sort of magical routine that all of us in the fitness industry know, that once we qualify from a two month course, or an online course, or a three year university degree, we’re all handed the same secret certificate telling us exactly how to get washboard abs. You’ve got to do exactly 6 squats, with exactly 27.5kgs on your back, at exactly 19:36 in the evening, three times a week. Exactly that, forever. It’s not true I’m afraid. And the sad fact is, even if that was true, and I told you that, most of you still wouldn’t do it. “Oh, I can’t do it at 19:36 tonight, I’ll do it at 20:30, that’ll be fine.” “Oh, I forgot to do three times this week, I’ll do two or one, it’ll just get me there slower.” “I’ve done it for a couple of weeks now, and I haven’t seen a difference.” And then you’d blame me, “Hey, it didn’t work.” Well did you actually do it, did you do exactly what I said? Nope. Because we now live in a world where everyone has that world at their fingertips, you might be reading this on your phone right now, and they expect everything instantly. Except your body doesn’t really work like that.
You can’t spot reduce fat, you just can’t. And anyone who’s trying to sell some workout plan or juice diet that’s “guaranteed to strip fat away from this area or that area,” get rid of them now, stop following them, stop paying for their stuff, they are lying to you. They are taking advantage of vulnerable, gullible, desperate people, and they are lying to you. You have to be in a calorie deficit, burning more than you eat, and your body starts breaking down your body fat to use it as energy. However you want to achieve that, you just have to be patient. If you stay in that sensible calorie deficit, it will eventually start to noticeably hit the areas you want it to hit. Bear in mind, it will be making a difference anyway, but you’re probably not aware of it. Because you’re looking at yourself in the mirror every day, and you’re not seeing the progress from A to Z. You’re seeing the progress from A to B, and then B to C, and then C to D, and then… You’re not assessing your progress from the start, you’re assessing it from the last time you checked, and that’s probably not going to be that much.
Be patient. Real lasting change takes time. And if you’re doing things right, that change will be happening, even if it’s not obvious to you. Maybe take note of your starting point, and the total progress you make. Maybe not even judging by weight, measurements tend to give you a better idea. Doing exercise will help, it’ll make you stronger and healthier, it’ll give you muscle definition, and that’ll help burn more calories and make you look better. But to strip away that body fat, and reveal those muscles, you have to burn more calories than you consume. No exercise alone will reduce your body fat in a certain area without that deficit. Concentrate on achieving that.
Get exercising anyway, eat sensibly, and I’ll see you again next week.
Body Fuel Personal Fitness Trainer